David Coleman e-mailed me:
Valverde was exactly what the Astros needed. He brought a swagger to the mound that this team lacked. Injuries robbed him of time this season and the fact that the Astros weren't very good down the stretch held his save total down. You can't ask for much more out of a closer, though, as he managed to strike out one an inning and his
home run rate was the lowest since 2005. He has enough concerning factors to his season that I worry about giving him a long term deal.
For one, his strikeout rate was the lowest of his career and his BABiP (.261) meant his season was more lucky than you'd like. With a couple more hits landing, his numbers could easily have skewed upwards more.
That gives you a pretty good sense of what he was like during the season. As for his free agency? I'm obviously more a fan of this deal from the Astros end because of the draft picks. I don't know why the Tigers thought they needed to spend that kind of money on Valverde, but he does grow on you.
I was not a fan of the trade when the Astros picked him up from Arizona, but he was a good closer. If you want to
contendand need a closer, he's a pretty safe bet. Is he as reliable as a Joe Nathan? No. But he does get the job done fairly consistently.
Many of the people here aren't too happy with the Lyon deal, but I posed the question today: If it had been a trade, Valverde for Lyon (with his current contract) and two pretty good prospects, wouldn't you view that as a win? I'm not sure I buy that (I can't believe [Astros manager Ed] Wade gave Lyon three years), but I also can't blame some team for biting on Valverde.
If he's not injured, he can be a top-flight closer.